Blog Post 12: Breaking Down Barriers

Hi all,

Hope you’re all enjoying break, or at least on your way to it, depending on when you read this post. Here’s a thread for our post-Thanksgiving text, Brian K. Vaughan, Marcos Martin, and Muntsa Vicente’s Barrier. First, a practical note: we’ll read issues 1 and 2 for our first Wednesday back, November 28.

For this post, you should pose two interpretive questions, or clusters of questions, that emerge for you from this reading. Rather than being oriented towards reading-comprehension-type thinking, your questions should be open-ended and speculative — they should point us towards the larger questions and issues the authors are raising, and how they’re raising them in formal terms. You might think about the larger meanings of particular moments in the text, particular characters, the formal strategies of this work in terms of text, image, etc., or even how this final text fits into the larger landscape of our readings this semester.

Although you might think about how you’d answer the questions you pose, they should be questions you can’t answer easily or simply.  For each question, you should say a little about what’s at stake in it for you, and what you see the importance of that question being. We’ll look at some of these in class Wednesday as a way of starting to think through this work.

Enjoy the break, and happy reading — see you all next week!

Reminder: your response should go in the comments section for this post — click the “Leave a Comment” link at the top of the post. It should be at least 250 words, and is due by 11:59pm on Tuesday, November 27th. If you have any questions, let me know via email.

Blog Post 11: Self-Portraits

Hi all,

Very nice first day with Gloeckner’s text today! We’re well set up to continue thinking about how this text is raising questions of representation and self-representation in terms of gender, sexuality, visuality, artistry, and more. So this blog posts asks you to focus on a specific moment of that in our reading for Wednesday (120-190).

For this post, you should closely analyze one specific moment of self-representation in our reading for Wednesday. I encourage you to define self-representation widely and creatively in this context: it could be a moment of Minnie the narrator/protagonist representing herself in some way, or a moment of Gloeckner the author representing a self in some way (through Minnie, or perhaps through another character), and it could be verbal, visual, or some combination/fusion/juxtaposition of the two. In your analysis, you should think about the meaning of your chosen moment not only individually in and of itself, but as one piece of the larger thinking Gloeckner is doing around these themes in the novel: how does your moment imagine selfhood and self-representation? What issues does it raise in relation to them (social, ethical, aesthetic, etc.), and what does Gloeckner say about those issues through it? How might we see your moment as also a reflection on graphic writing overall in relation to these issues?

Reminder: your response should go in the comments section for this post — click the “Leave a Comment” link at the top of the post. It should be at least 250 words, and is due by 11:59pm on Tuesday, November 13th. If you have any questions, let me know via email.

Blog Post 10: The End of Fun

Hi all,

As promised, here’s an open-ended thread for thinking about the last section of Fun Home for Wednesday. You’re welcome to write about whatever in the remaining chapters seems important to you in terms of the text overall — you might write on the questions of medium and meaning in relation to photos and drawing we talked about yesterday, or on the book’s consideration of narrative in this section, or how it represents and imagines sexuality, or to focus on whatever else strikes you as significant in what you’re reading. The only requirement here is that you focus on something that allows you to address some larger issues (thematic, generic, formal, social, etc.) in your writing, and that you pursue those issues through some quotation and close analysis of Bechdel’s text.

Reminder: your response should go in the comments section for this post — click the “Leave a Comment” link at the top of the post. It should be at least 250 words, and is due by 11:59pm on Tuesday, November 6th. If you have any questions, let me know via email.

Blog Post 9: Our House

Hi everyone,

Hope you’re all having a good Study Day. Since people have been doing a nice job pursuing their own interests and lines of thinking in the blog recently, I’m going to make this first post on Fun Home open-ended and up to you again. There’s lots to think about in this first section of the novel — some of our ongoing questions such as narrative time, memory, form, and text and image certainly come up here again, and we’ll spend some time Wednesday thinking about what Bechdel is doing along those lines, so you might write on some of those issues if that interests you. But feel free to focus on whatever seems significant as something that would allow you a way into thinking about the larger issues of the text — beyond just being interesting, this should be a way for you to raise specific issues and questions. The only fundamental requirement here is that you ground your thinking in close analysis of specific material from the novel — think about the larger questions and issues that a particular moment in Bechdel’s writing opens up and what seems significant in it to you.

Image result for funeral home floor plansReminder: your response should go in the comments section for this post — click the “Leave a Comment” link at the top of the post. It should be at least 250 words, and is due by 11:59pm on Tuesday, October 30th. If you have any questions, let me know via email.

Blog Post 8: Shadow Histories

Hi all,

Nice work with some complicated moments in Maus today. As promised in class, here’s a thread for some further writing in place of class Friday. First, a quick recap of related course business:

  • We won’t have regular class Friday, and I won’t have my regular office hours tomorrow—if anyone has questions, I’m happy to talk over email or in my office hours Monday (12:00-1:30).
  • Instead of reading regularly for class Friday, you should read the Hillary Chute essay “‘The Shadow of a Past Time’: History and Graphic Representation in Maus” in the course packet with an eye to the blog post below.
  • When we come back to class next Wednesday, October 24, we’ll discuss Chute’s essay and the rest of the novel—I’ll put up another regularly scheduled blog due midnight Tuesday closer to the end of the week.

And now, on with the blog post…

As I mentioned towards the end of class today, Chute is perhaps the primary critical authority on Maus and on nonfictional, historical graphic narratives more generally. In this essay, her first major publication on Maus, she lays out a rich framework for understanding what Spiegelman’s text is doing visually and historically. So for this blog, you should engage with that framework and what it means for the text: first, quote, analyze, and respond to what you see as her key claims in the essay—what is she suggesting there, what’s important about it, and how do you respond? Then do some thinking to situate that idea more broadly: where else do you see the qualities she describes in the text beyond the moments she focuses on? How does her argument change or expand your reading of the text? What possibilities does her thinking raise for how we interpret Maus, what limitations does it have, what problems does it raise?

Reminder: your response should go in the comments section for this post — click the “Leave a Comment” link at the top of the post. It should be at least 250 words, and is due by 11:59pm on Friday, October 19th. If you have any questions, let me know via email.

Blog Post 7: Maus House

Hi all,

Here’s an open-ended thread for writing on the second section of Maus — you’re free to write on what seems most important to you in this section of the text, with a few qualifications and constraints.mouse-xray

First, rather than a general response, you should use your post to raise and think about some specific key issues in this section: you might write about one of the issues I forecasted at the end of class — photographs and other documents in the text, or the implications of self-referentiality, for example — or you might focus on something else. Just make sure that the issues you’re approaching are high-level conceptual and thematic ones that you can pursue through some close analysis, and note those issues in your writing in ALL CAPS so it’s clear what you’re focusing on.

e607209ddf7e2f072dc12e77aaf15b78Second, as always, you should ground your analysis in close visual and textual analysis of a specific moment or two in the text — cite this and look at it closely as a way of thinking about how Spiegelman is addressing the issues you’re focusing on.

Reminder: your response should go in the comments section for this post — click the “Leave a Comment” link at the top of the post. It should be at least 250 words, and is due by 11:59pm on Tuesday, October 16th. If you have any questions, let me know via email.

Blog Post 6: Wow oh WoW

Hi all,

Next Wednesday’s class is conclusive in a number of ways — it’s our last day with World of Wakanda, with the Black Panther franchise world at large, and also with superhero comics more broadly (at least for a while). So let’s use this blog post to raise some conclusive questions for this section of the course: what do we need to think about more? What do we need to think about that we haven’t thought about yet, whether in this text, this world, or this section of the course?

In your post, you should pose two substantive questions, themes, or issues for us to think about in relation to this material that we haven’t covered (or covered fully in your mind) yet — these don’t have to be literal questions (although they could be), but rather should be ways of raising things you’d like us to think about more on our last day. While your questions can pertain strictly to World of Wakanda, they can also engage with issues (either new or old) that run through our reading so far, whether those be formal/aesthetic, thematic, social, or something else. However, for each question, you should do some thinking in response to it so you can illustrate why you see it as important, and connect it to a specific moment (a scene, panel, page, etc.) in our reading for Wednesday — in other words, while it doesn’t have to only come up in Wednesday’s material, it should at least come up there in your writing, so that we have some tangible material to pursue it through. I’ll pull together some common threads from people’s responses so we have a few things to focus on in class.

Reminder: your response should go in the comments section for this post — click the “Leave a Comment” link at the top of the post. It should be at least 250 words, and is due by 11:59pm on Tuesday, October 9th. If you have any questions, let me know via email.

 

Blog Post 5: Afrofuturism, Politics, Aesthetics…

Hi all,

Nice first day of discussion with Black Panther today. Since we only have two days with this text (at least as a self-contained narrative, before we turn to World of Wakanda), I’m going to make this post a more open-ended one — you’re free to write on whatever seems most important to you in the second two issues. You might focus on the role of Afrofuturism in the text (be sure to read the article by Fullwood in the packet and watch the talk by Ingrid LaFleur for class, even if you don’t write on this for the blog), or you might continue thinking about the questions of politics, race, and nationhood we discussed today, or consider the visual aesthetics of the novel and what they might mean more broadly,  or you might think about any number of other issues in the text. Anything is fair game, as long as you ground your thinking of some close analysis of a specific page/panels/passage in the reading for Wednesday — try to use that close analysis as a way of thinking through and illustrating the larger issues you’re addressing.

Reminder: your response should go in the comments section for this post — click the “Leave a Comment” link at the top of the post. It should be at least 250 words, and is due by 11:59pm on Tuesday, October 2nd. If you have any questions, let me know via email.

PS: If you’re interested, here’s a look at the Black Panther Party we touched on in class today — the comic character predates them by just a bit, but there’s certainly a common ground worth discussing further…

 

Blog Post 4: Last Issues

Hi all,

Our next class on Wednesday is our last with Watchmen — as I mentioned at the end of class today, we’ll use this period to take stock of the novel as a whole and where we are in relation to graphic narrative as a genre more broadly.

So this last post on the text is a chance to do some open-ended thinking on issues and threads we haven’t discussed in depth yet, whether they be thematic, formal, cultural, or some other sort altogether. You should ground your post in some analysis of a small portion of the last chunk of the novel (a specific panel, line, image, moment, etc.), but you’re welcome and encouraged to connect that to earlier moments, particularly ones that raise new issues and questions for us. What new issues does your chosen moment raise, and where else might we see them in the text? What’s the larger importance of those issues within the novel as a whole for us as readers and within our emerging understanding of the genre overall? If someone has addressed an issue that you’re thinking of by the time you post, try to add to their thinking and/or take that issue in a different direction. We’ll use some of these to frame our discussion on Wednesday.

Reminder: your response should go in the comments section for this post — click the “Leave a Comment” link at the top of the post. It should be at least 250 words, and is due by 11:59pm on Tuesday, September 25th. If you have any questions, let me know via email.

Blog Post 3: The (Re)Definition of the Superhero

Hi everyone,

Nice work with the second chunk of Watchmen today. First, as promised, here’s a link to the main pecha kucha site so people can see some examples and get a feel for the form, and there’s lots more on Youtube as well. Feel free to share any particularly good ones you find in the comments here or any other way that works for you. I’ll be in touch about scheduling soon once I’ve looked over everyone’s picks — if you didn’t write yours down for whatever reason today, send me your first and second choice for date to present as soon as possible.

Our third section of the text gives us a more in-depth testing ground for some of the thinking about superheroes and gender dynamics we left off with today, and Coogan’s essay in the packet gives us a useful framework for that kind of thinking. So for this week’s post, you should work on forging some specific connections, oppositions, and other relations between Coogan’s thinking and this section of Watchmen — how are Moore and Gibbons following, adapting, critiquing, or otherwise engaging the understanding of the superhero Gibbons gives us in his essay? What’s significant about those engagements for the novel as a whole, and/or for superheros and comics more broadly — what’s at stake in what they’re doing with this figure? hot-toys-superman-upsidedown-600x583

You’re free to pursue whatever elements of this issue interest you, as long as you ground your thinking in some quotation and analysis of both Coogan and this section of Watchmen — show how the two are relating in specific ways and what that relation shows us more broadly.

Reminder: your response should go in the comments section for this post — click the “Leave a Comment” link at the top of the post. It should be at least 250 words, and is due by 11:59pm on Thursday, September 20th (no class on Wednesday). If you have any questions, let me know via email.